4 December, 2016
It’s 01h00 on……..”let’s see….ahh yes, Sunday morning, and I just came on watch after 7 hours of killer sleep”. Ever since I became voluntarily unemployed, the time/space continuum has been disturbed-on a passage, even more so. It’s one of the reasons for the $19 Timex on my wrist (the day/date function), the other being the LARGE readablewithoutglassesnumbers. Sleep yesterday night was sketchy at best. Even though the seas were 4’ and less, they were hitting us just off the port bow, giving the Girl some lively movement in all three axis (axes,axises, axees?) whatever, she was pitching, rolling and yawing in rapid succession. The frequent rain showers didn’t help, as the closed portholes made for a rather stuffy boat belowdecks. This morning, we had more of the same. Cloudy skies, and frequent pouring rain were the order of the day. We’d no sooner get the portholes and hatches open, then the rain would come pouring down (and sideways). In midafternoon, we got some lines in the water. Since I was planning on napping to make up for lost time the night before, the fishing effort was halfhearted at best. No baits, just artificial lures. True to form, I was just getting off to sleep when one of the reels went zinging out. Winding in, we could see that it was a little Mahi. As I was thinking “Should we keep him, or let ‘em go?”, he shook the hook. Problem solved. Back to the couch. Not fifteen minutes later, repeat the process. I’m not yet quite with it (still sleeping) as I’m letting line out to reset. All of a sudden, I see a six inch tidal wave rocketing perpendicular to our wake and hit the lure that I’m just letting out. Three hundred yards of line roll off the spool in a heartbeat. I’m trying to get some drag on the reel, but to no avail. I’ve got the biggest fish I’ve ever hooked up, and my reel’s malfunctioning!! Meanwhile, he’s taken 400 yards, I’m thinking “to heck with it, I’ll just hand line him in”. (and throw away the pile of line that’ll end up on the deck away.) He saved me the humiliation. One shake of his head, and he was gone. Sheepishly, I looked a little closer at the “broken” reel, and realized that I had never set the clutch-one of the hazards of fishing in your sleep. The third time was a charm. This time, after a 30 minute nap, when that reel started screaming, I was in battle mode immediately. Man, it was something big. Four hundred and fifty yards were off the spool before I could reel in a single inch of line. I looked at my reel, and saw line that had never been off it (you can tell by the way it’s wound). For the next twenty minutes, I reeled in twenty yards, he took back twenty-five. Exhausted, I put the rod back in the holder, and took a rest. Suzanne spelled me a couple of times, reeling with both hands. When we finally got him to the boat, this “monster” was no more than a 49” Mahi, no bigger than the guys that we boated in the Bahamas last year. That was a long story just to explain why I got a good sleep tonight.
After our pal was butchered, yielding about 10 pounds of gorgeous filets, Suz informed that we were done fishing. “What?” Seems that the freezers are full-no room for more food. Remember, we’re headed to the islands, where beef will be somewhat less than plentiful. The rain showers finally abated, the clouds cleared, and we had a breezy, sunny evening, with the sun setting over calm seas.
I got ahead of myself, so let me go back and fill in the blanks. After we left Southside late Friday morning, we spent the next nine hours cruising over the shallow Caicos Bank. The sun was full-on. The temperature was in the eighties, with humidity right up there to match it. Wind and waves were on our nose, starting at a manageable 2’, and increasing to 4’ by the end of the day when we exited the Bank at Fish Cays. Two hours across the Turks Island Passage brought us onto the shoals around Big Sand Cay, where in the pitch black, under a wafer-thin crescent moon, we threaded through, between the island to the north, and the coral rock shoals to the south. (radar, accurate electronic charts, and GPS are good things-we never saw nuttin’ out the windows). From there, we expected deep water the rest of the way, and since there was virtually no boat traffic, we flipped on the television for some binge-watching. Some friends back on dirt had told us about the series “Scandal”, so we downloaded a couple of seasons before we left. As of last night, we’re on the second episode of Season 3. As I mentioned before, sleep came with some effort Friday night. I got my best in the last hour before I relieved the Admiral at 02h00, when the waves started to moderate.
I guess that gets us caught up. It’s 01h45 on Sunday morning, the seas are less than 2’, and the wind, in the night lee created by Dominican Republic, some 30 miles off our starboard, is less than 10kn. Before Suz went to bed, we discussed the latest weather report, downloaded from our Delorme satellite tracker. Conditions look favorable for us to push on to Puerto Rico, so we’ll bypass Samana, D.R. to take advantage of this unusually (for this time of year) nice weather. I think that I’ll listen to a few of our prerecorded podcasts, drink a Coke, and settle in for the night.
PS: You mighta guessed no cell or data coverage. We’ll shoot these last few into space ASAP.